The first was a Time article reporting that new students at City College of Dongguan University of Technology were asked to sign suicide waivers as part of their registration paper work. The idea that a university would require new students to sign agreements absolving the university of responsibility, if the pressures of studies and university life became so great that suicide rather than graduation is the outcome, certainly sets a somber tone for both students and parents alike.
However, the article went on to say that the suicide rate for students has not increased in recent years and is actually lower than that of the general population – not that any suicide is acceptable. The university's felt need for the waiver may be more related to China becoming an increasingly litigious society than it is to a concern for increased stress in student lives.
But then, almost to make sure the article ends on a negative note, it went on to relate that with more students than ever before attending university and the number of jobs available to new grads shrinking along with the economy, the end result is indeed increased stress on students. The pressure to somehow fulfill the expectations of their parents for a better life – parents who have often sacrificed greatly to send their child to university – is immense. In other words, education is simply a means to an end and if that end is not achievable – the value of education is brought sharply into doubt.
The second was an article in The Economist on the increase of western-style debate in China both at the university and secondary school levels. For educators debate is a tool for teaching critical thinking, spontaneity and public speaking – skills often lacking in a Chinese education. But for many high school students, it's an extra-curricular activity that will look good on university applications for those seeking to go abroad to study. Either way, it is remarkable that in a society that generally frowns on speaking one's mind or questioning authority figures, debate with its inherent argument of both sides of an issue is increasing.
If nothing else, these two articles in a small way demonstrate the complexities of education in China, both the challenges and the opportunities.
ChinaSource has long been interested in education issues in China and the challenges today's Chinese students face both in China and when studying abroad. Last week ChinaSource hosted an education consultation in Southern California. Roughly 30 people from around the country gathered to discuss how Christians can help meet the educational needs of China. Themes centered on how to handle the influx of high school students into private Christian schools; building partnerships with schools in China; and issues related to Christian education in China.
The current issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, The Postmodern Generation and the Church in China, also provides a wealth of information for those seeking to reach and minister to today's Chinese students who are impacted by the influence of postmodern thought. Links to articles in the Quarterly are included below.
Join us as we seek to understand and pray for the students of China,
The ChinaSource Team
- Pray that students in China will not be overwhelmed by the pressures of university education and the expectations of hopeful parents.
- Pray that educators in China will find ways to include the development of vital skills in their programs and overseas Christian educators will find appropriate ways to be involved.
- Pray for overseas Christian high schools to be well prepared to receive the influx of Chinese students.
- Pray for Chinese churches and church leaders to increasingly understand the mindset and needs of Chinese students and scholars both in China and abroad. Pray for wisdom and love to share the gospel with them in effective ways.ChinaSource Quarterly Autumn 2013 issue: The Postmodern Generation and the Church in ChinaEditorial"Thinking with Their Hearts: Postmodernism in China" by Brent FultonArticles"Postmodernism and Its Effects on China" by Jason Lim"Identifying Postmodernism" by Jason Lim"Urge for Faith: Postmodern Beliefs among Urban Chinese" by Fredrik Fllman"Pastors Reaching and Ministering to Today's Generation" by Jon LuView from the Wall"The Postmodern Shift of Chinese Young People" by Jonathan LiPeoples of China"Serving the Postmodern Generation" by Juta PanBook Review"God at Work in a Student Leader," A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling, reviewed by Laurie MichaelsResource CorneThe 2014 Intercessors for China Prayer Calendar, Special Feature: Adoption
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